Nearly one year ago I attended a one day conference on the missional church at Biblical Seminary. The event coincided with the installation of John Franke as the The Lester and Kay Clemens Professor of Missional Theology. Before the event I enjoyed chatting with John as we strolled the small campus in Hatfield, PA. He gave me an article he had written that would be something of a distillation of his soon to be published book, Manifold Witness: The Plurality of Truth.
After repeated emails from Amazon.com that the publication date had been pushed back, I received shipping confirmation late last week. Today my copy yesterday. There is little doubt I will set aside a number of books I am reading to get right into this one. Already I stole away some time to read much of the “pre-matter.”
Brian McLaren outlined a number of reasons this book may be valuable. Throw in Tony Jones introduction to the series and most will consider the book to have a plurality of reasons not to be read. Not so here. I am reminded of the scene in the movie Footloose where the Reverend Shaw put an end to burning books he had inadvertently influenced. Surely we are beyond those days of burning books too.
From my high school days right up through the present I have wrestled with the diversity of Christian denominations. Even when I would repeat my pastor’s mantra growing up that “Southern Baptists are the closest thing to the New Testament,” I felt uneasy. Friends would pigeon hole me asking, “So you think you are the only ones going to Heaven.” Surely I did not think so. But that was the climate then and with the push in our denomination for what it means to be Baptist now we head hunt those who are not Baptist “like we are.”
I look forward to reading how John works with the reality of the kaleidoscope of beauty when we consider the breadth of the Christian faith from its early days until now.
4 comments on “Manifold Anticipation for a Plurality of Reasons”
I was at the Theological Conversation almost two weeks ago when John gave the opening address, giving us the basic outline of the new book and generally riling everyone up. He was his usual, delightfully pugnacious self. I need to order my own copy; it promises to be most thought provoking. Thank God for John Franke and those like him who are trying to keep the conversation from devolving into slogans and bumper sticker theology.
(And thanks for the Michael Card video, Todd. I was humming ‘God’s Own Fool’ out of the sheer blue the other day and thinking way, waaaay back.)
I would have liked to have been at the Theological Conversation. John always does a solid job presenting his material. Carefully listening reveals some good humor along the way too. You also make a good point that theology cannot be reduced to slogans and bumper stickers and John and others help us think deeply.
And, if you recall those Michael Card songs from waaaay back, then you like me age yourself. 🙂
I am reminded of what Rob Bell said… “None of us follow the Bible, we all follow someone’s interpretation of the Bible.” I really believe that is true. We just line up with folk who”believe the Bible” like we do.
And when we fail to take that (our own way of approaching the Scriptures) seriously we end up making a number of mistakes for our failure to account for other voices. Multiplicity is not the same as double-minded and unstable as some would assert.